Yeah, he removed the single most defining element of the game. And, Sweet Sackson, it still works!
In Modern Art, paintings in the form of cards are auctioned off. After one artist has had six paintings sold in one season (round), the paintings of the top three artists are sold for the profit of the players. If an artist was in the top three in a previous round, their paintings are more valuable. However, even if an artist's paintings would be worth an astronomical some things to previous rounds, they only get so if they're in the top three.
Modern Art the Card Game takes that formula and ditches the auctions. Instead, players just play cards from their hands in front of them. You don't by paintings from auctions and you don't get to pocket the profits from your own auctions.
There are still a few clever little bits, though, to help keep everyone on their toes. Some of the cards have special powers that go off when you play them. These include the power to play another card by the same artist at the same time, to draw a card into your hand, to increase the value of an artist, or to lay down a card facedown in order to keep everyone guessing.
Another twist is that you get dealt increasingly fewer cards as the rounds go by, getting no new cards on the last round. Which means that you got to start planning your long game right from the start.
What you get, at the end of the day, is a lighter and shorter game than the original. However, it's still a tense little game with plenty of room for clever play.
While you don't have the direct interaction of auctions, you still have the constantly changing, silent alliances since you can't put one artist on top by yourself. In fact, since you don't get the profits from auctioning paintings, these unspoken alliances are even more important.
When Modern Art the Card Game first came out, it's spent a couple months in constant rotation in my gaming group. And this was at a time when we were constantly playing new games (an unnamed member of the group, perhaps one that keeps a blog, kept buying new games) and a game getting played twice in succession was pretty impressive. So that much steady play is quite the compliment for the game.
Modern Art the Card Game isn't as good as its parent game. The original game is such an amazing auction game. However, the card game is still plenty of fun. It takes up even less storage space, which is always nice. It plays down to two, which the original game definitely couldn't do. And it plays pretty darn quick.
It does what a card version of a board game should do. It gives you a condensed experience while still being true to the original and fun.